DIY aquariums are on the rise across the UK, as a growing number of hobbyists and nature lovers look to bring the beauty of a well-stocked fish tank to their homes. But just how easy is it to design and build a successful aquarium? And what kind of work and maintenance does it involve?
To help you take the first steps towards building a DIY aquarium at home, we’ve put together this beginner’s guide with everything you need to know. Use the links below to look around or read on for our full amateur aquarium guide.
If you’ve dabbled with the idea of building an aquarium yourself, here are a few reasons why we think it’s a brilliant idea:
Installing an aquarium is an exciting prospect, but before you go out and buy up the whole aquarium aisle, there are a few things to note. If you want your aquarium to provide a happy, healthy and easy-to-maintain home for your chosen fish, taking the time to do some research and get things right at the setup stage will save you a lot of headaches later on.
Here, we take a look at some of the essential first steps to setting up an aquarium at home.
Before buying a tank, make sure you have the appropriate space in your home. Positioning is very important to ensure the health and wellbeing of the fish, so it’s important to get it right.
Ideally, the position of the tank should be:
Tank Size and Style
When you’ve found the ideal site for your tank, you can then measure up and work out how big an aquarium you could feasibly go for. Ideally, you should go for as big a tank as you can fit in your space; the roomier the better. There are a couple of reasons why a big tank can be a bonus, including:
The position of your tank may dictate the size, but there are different options when it comes to design. A traditional rectangular tank may or may not be the best fit depending on the space, so shop around until you find the ideal size and shape. A good pet or aquarium supply store will be able to advise on the best tank for your needs depending on the space and money you have to play with.
Designing and Building Your Tank
As well as the tank itself, you’ll need some interesting features to help fill it up. Rocks, plants and pebbles not only look attractive and help give your aquarium a realistic look, but they also help certain species to live as naturally as possible within an enclosed environment.
When buying add-ons and furniture for your aquarium, be strategic and don’t go overboard. You’re looking to fill the tank with interesting features, without cluttering it up for the fish. Remember, you’ll also need additional features like a filter and lighting, as well as a heater if you plan on keeping tropical fish.
It’s easy to get carried away with the idea of stocking your aquarium with a smorgasbord of tropical fish, but it’s important not to overdo things. Some fish are easier for beginners to care for than others, making them the ideal starter species until you have the confidence to add more challenging, and dare we say needy, varieties.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re restricted to the usual goldfish or guppies; there are lots of fish you can care for as a beginner aquarist without feeling out of your depth. Here, we take a look at a handful of fish which are ideal for beginner collectors.
These playful freshwater fish are a dream for novice aquarium keepers, providing bags of personality, colour and charm. Native to Asia, slender danios are part of the minnows and carps family, and are characterised by their vivid patterns and energetic tank persona.
The name alone tells you all you need to know about this adorable fish species. Colourful, bright and active, they’re an inexpensive and hardy option for beginner aquarium builders. Our advice is to buy a decent collection of tetras; when they swim as a school, they put on quite the show.
If you have space in your tank, mollies are a worthy addition, being slightly bigger than most other easy-to-maintain freshwater species. Available in a variety of shapes and colours, mollies are similar to guppies, and often have an over-sized tailfin in an attractive array of colours.
If you’re looking to jump straight in at the deep end and add tropical species into your aquarium, a great starter variety has to be the pajama cardinalfish. These attractive saltwater fish, native to the tropical waters of Fiji, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, are easy to care for, providing the perfect introduction to the demands of keeping tropical species.
Whichever fish you choose for your aquarium, there are hundreds of options available, each offering its own unique attributes and characteristics. The trick is to plan your collection carefully, ensuring a balanced and safe environment for every species in your tank. Your local vet or an experienced aquarium specialist can advise on the best species based on your requirements.
While an entire guide could be dedicated to cleaning and maintaining an aquarium, we’ve pulled together some of the essential need-to-knows below, so you have an idea of the realities of aquarium keeping.
Let’s take a look at the basics of aquarium maintenance:
As with caring for any animal, there may come a time when you feel you can longer care for and maintain your aquarium. There are lots of reasons for this, which is why it’s so important to thoroughly research species before purchasing, and carefully consider all the work involved in building an aquarium at home.
At Blue Planet Aquarium, we’re sometimes approached by home aquarists who are looking to donate fish to our centre because they can no longer give them the care they need. On occasion, we’re able to take in such animals, but not always, which perfectly illustrates the challenges of rehoming aquarium fish.
As we mentioned, there are many reasons why you may feel you can no longer maintain your aquarium, including:
All these motives demonstrate why research is so important before committing to building an aquarium. Remember, fish are living animals that require time and dedication to care for, so you should never go into aquarium keeping lightly.
For more information on the realities of keeping fish at home, check out The Big Fish Campaign, a charity which promotes responsible aquarium keeping.
We hope this guide proves helpful if you’re hoping to install your very own DIY aquarium. Prefer the real thing? Let our experts show you how it’s done as part of a memorable day out at Blue Planet Aquarium. For more information and tickets, visit the homepage.